I wrote this book over the course of three months, from February to May 2016, based on research that I had completed in the few years prior. Writing this book was a relatively enjoyable endeavor, given that its subject matter — ancient Chinese maps and the history of Xinjiang — pertains to both my major and my interests.
In my mind, Xinjiang is the antithesis of homogeneity — a melting pot of different ethnicities, cultures and languages. Regrettably, the Xinjiang that the people know and love differs greatly from the one portrayed in the media. This sad truth is in part what motivated me to write this book.
This book would not have been possible had I not had the assistance of several experts, who I'd like to thank individually:
I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to Ms. Yilisuya from the Committee for the People's Political Consultative Conference for her notes concerning the article on the Fragrant Concubine; as well as Mr. Yu Taishan from the History Faculty of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, for his affirmative advice regarding the scope of the "Western territories" (in the article on the Visual Appraisal of the Western Territories) and the origins of Qi Shiyi's name (in Sights and Sounds of the Western Territories).
I'd like to thank Ms. Gu Songjie from the Minzu University of China for helping me reach out to Tong Liya's father; as well as Tong Liya and her father for giving me permission to add color to the pages of this book with their photos. Meanwhile, I'd like to thank Ms. Wang Jun from ChinaXinjiang.cn for sharing three of my articles on the online publication's public WeChat account.
Thank you to the head of Wuzhou Publishing Press, Zheng Lei — first of all, for their enthusiasm and encouragement when I proposed this book; but most of all, for their support and devotion during its publication. Also, thank you to Ms. Song Boya (also from Wuzhou Publishing Press) for carefully correcting my manuscript.
Finally, I'd like to thank my father. As this was my first time trying to write an easily understood and accessible work of literature, I was unsure of how it would be received. I often relied on my father's perspective as an average reader to let me know when I needed to simply things further. Thanks to my beloved father: the first reader of this book!
3 December 2016, in Huilongguan (outside Beijing)